The grape hyacinth is out in force (on my side of Bedfordshire) and the pussy willow and field maple blossom are out over at Shocott Spring. We’ve heard on Facebook that the bluebells are out at Rectory Wood though we sadly don’t have any photos yet - we’re working on it! Our Head Ranger also spotted some dog’s mercury over where Rectory Wood meets the edge of Marston Thrift  - their small flowers occur in greenish clusters and they’re very understated in comparison to brighter, more showy plants, but you’ll normally spot them in ancient woodlands (like the Thrift).

dogs mercury and catkins

Dog's mercury and goat willow catkins

Goat willow catkins are about to burst into leaf, which are a great source of nectar and pollen for bees and other insects at this time of year, before everything else is out. 

Another one that’s out already and feeding the bees and butterflies is comfrey, which you’ll see more of over the coming weeks. You can also spot some common spotted orchid leaves out and about, though these won’t fully flower until June.

orchid leaf, garlic mustard and comfrey

Common spotted orchid leaf, garlic mustard and comfrey

Animals and insects

The orange tip butterflies are now out (as is the garlic mustard - where they lay their eggs) and we have some great footage of a peacock butterfly and a common bee fly feeding on some ground ivy, in slow motion. We've also seen some 7 spotted ladybirds about so keep an eye out for them. 

If you’re lucky (or unlucky - depending on how you feel about snakes) you may see grass snakes about in the Millennium Country Park, especially at the edge of Stewartby Lake. Over the years, we’ve had people thinking they are adders and all sorts of other breeds (as they move too fast to identify) but if you see it in the Millennium Country Park, it’s 99.9% going to be a grass snake (unless someone has released their pet python into the wild…then we will have bigger problems!)

There are still lots of chinese water deer about if you’re quick enough to spot them - the footage below was shot in a rare moment when one was actually sitting still, so you might get lucky enough to have a better look at one. If you do - make sure you send us any photos!


We’ve got some even better footage of a song thrush singing this week, to help you learn to identify it when you’re out on your daily walk or in your garden:

If you fancy some heart warming videos we have footage from this week of egyptian geese with 6 juveniles around the Lake and a video (from a few years ago) of oyster catchers feeding their young. We haven’t caught them on camera yet this year but they have already arrived - officially signalling the beginning of spring.

You’ll see a lot of starlings about as their flocks will soon disperse to start breeding - we have a video of them feeding in the Millennium Country Park en masse, and you’ll notice that they aren’t just black - they have almost iridescent coats that people often don’t see when they fly past at speed.

A reminder

Goes without saying but, make sure you're social distancing on any walks that you do - we’re so lucky to have such beautiful countryside and an abundance of wildlife on our doorsteps in Bedfordshire and while we’re still allowed to get out there and appreciate it daily, let’s make sure we do it responsibly (and encourage others to do the same.)

We should have willow warblers for you next week - fingers crossed! Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to hear more from us in the coming weeks about the natural happenings in the Forest and click below to let us know if you’ve seen anything on your daily walk - whether it’s on our sites or not - we’d love to hear from you!

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